I’m probably going to be admitting to a cardinal sin of travel here but here we go: wherever I go in Asia, I love to find a western brunch or casual cafe and just devour western comfort food. There, I said it. I seek out western food when I’m in Asia.
Don’t get me wrong, I love eating Asian and I find plenty of it but occasionally my heart pines for a good old favourite bowl of pasta, an English breakfast or a stack of pancakes.
And every now and then I also appreciate the quieter, calm atmosphere of a western restaurant/cafe where you can chill for a couple of hours and read a book or do some light work. Asian restaurants (especially Chinese ones) are amazing for socialising but they’re probably not where I’d choose to have a quiet moment to myself…!
In Taipei, my favourite western eatery was hands-down Mia Cucina. I first heard about it on a ‘where to eat good western breakfast in Taipei’ type list and Mia Cucina sounded like they offered a yummy selection.
I turned up at opening time at the branch in Da’an District and was told they were fully booked for that day, which I thought was unusual for a weekday. Feeling disappointed, I conceded and made a reservation for the next day instead. Boy was it worth the wait though.
I’d be lying if I said Mia Cucina served 5-star food but it definitely hits the comfort-food spot and I was never disappointed, especially for the price. They have a wide variety of dishes and it actually took me a while to notice they were actually all vegetarian! I might usually be a little sceptical of a restaurant that’s exclusively vegetarian, on the assumption that they might serve blander food or just largely vegetable dishes, but that’s absolutely not the case here.
Mia Cucina serve brunch, salads, soups, flatbreads, pasta, panini, various vegetable appetisers, waffles, organic tea, coffee, smoothies, fresh juices, milkshakes, and really good homemade cake. You can see their whole menu in photos on their Facebook page.
I also just really love the ambience of the place! It has a really great chilled-back minimalist vibe and decor.
On my first visit I had a panini. I choose the one with pear, caramelised onion, caramelised pecans, dried cranberries, mozzarella, and pesto sauce. My mouth just waters writing about it. What it didn’t say on the menu is that it also comes with several grilled skin-on potato wedges. And the panini itself was bigger than I expected! (The photo of my panini below shows it with a large bite already taken out of it, haha, so what you actually get is bigger than what you see here!). Together, the panini and the potato wedges were NT$250 (about US$8) which I thought was very reasonable. Most importantly, it all tasted super good plus I was stuffed by the end of it.
On my next visit I went all out and ordered strawberry waffles. I’m definitely no waffle connoisseur but for me they were the best waffles I’ve ever had. They were the right amount of crunchiness and softness and also hot (as opposed to weirdly lukewarm as if they’d been left out and forgotten about after being cooked). I love that they also came with several extra things as well: fresh cream, strawberry ice cream, and fresh strawberries with homemade strawberry sauce. All for NTS235! Again, a bargain in my eyes.
Another day I bought a slice of their homemade carrot cake to take away. I’d already heard from reviews online that this was one of their stand-out signature items, plus I’m a cake fiend myself, so I couldn’t not try it. Again, the best carrot cake I’ve ever had. Full of flavour, moist, and the cream cheese icing was perfection. Although it genuinely did live up to the hype, at NT$195 I did think it was a bit expensive. But they do have excellent cake packing which makes the cake slice almost worth the price! Maybe I’m too easily amused but the packaging did make me laugh out loud. (Each cake box has song lyrics written around the outside). And I love that each type of cake has it’s own custom sticker! (For anyone who doesn’t know, the words on the box are lyrics from the somewhat cheesy song ‘Can’t take my Eyes Off You’ by Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons. You’ll know it if you hear it!
Predictably, I ate the cake too quick to take a photo so here’s the packaging instead!
I knew I’d already visited Mia Cucina far too many times but I just couldn’t stay away! For my last visit I had their sundried tomato and mushroom spaghetti in homemade alfredo sauce. Most of their pasta dishes come as either a small or a large portion. I went for the small which was NT$220. Their large was NT$385. Again, the food was as I’d hoped and I was left full and satisfied.
Every time I visited, the staff were always really friendly too! (And spoke good English). After I left Taiwan, I really missed walking into Mia Cucina (and other restaurants) and hearing several staff members simultaneously greet me with a cheery ‘Huan ying gang lin!’ 欢迎光临! (‘Welcome to our restaurant!’) which I hear seems to be a signature greeting in Taiwan!
Overall, excellent food, extensive menu, nice ambiance, friendly staff and super cool interior! What’s not to love?! If you want to eat around lunchtime, remember to make a reservation, especially at weekends!
What favourite ‘home-away-from-home’ restaurant have you found whilst travelling abroad? Tell me in the comments below!